Shaping the leaders of tomorrow

December 24, 2013, Shanghai. China is best known for its impressive economic growth rates, but another outstanding figure has attracted attention in 2013: a grand total of 6.99 million university graduates entered the job market. The Freudenberg Group together with Enactus, the world's largest non-profit student organization, supported the "Student Leadership Forum" in China from October to November. Four thousand students from more than 200 colleges in 14 cities participated in business training courses throughout China. "Enactus promotes values such as entrepreneurship and social responsibility. Values which are essential for our society and indispensable for our conduct in the future," explains Bettina Schön, General Manager of the Freudenberg Regional Corporate Center Asia. "The family-owned company Freudenberg has been living these values for more than 160 years."

Enactus students implement projects with the aid of entrepreneurial methods to improve the quality of life and the standard of living of people in a sustainable manner. The students are supported in this by partner companies and universities. By combining social community projects and professional project management, the "Student Leadership Forum" was a considerable success in China. A tailor-made training program was put together for students to learn how to better manage community projects from a business perspective. Freudenberg also provided job interview training and explained how important innovative traditions and social responsibility have been throughout the company's 160-year long history. "By participating in the Enactus Forum, we have the opportunity to develop a partnership with an impressive multinational company such as the Freudenberg Group. The innovative management, communication and team collaboration skills we learned will help make us fit for our future jobs without forgetting to create sustainable value for the society," said Project Manager Bin-Chen Gao of Enactus in Beijing, who is currently studying at China Agricultural University.

Improving the world – little by little

As a member of the board of directors of Enactus China, Bettina Schön participated in the evaluation of one of these projects. The project "Coffee Green" of the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics reached the semi-final in this year's Enactus Global Competition – Enactus World Cup, held in Mexico in October. The project is about converting waste coffee grounds into organic fertilizer for the cultivation of mushrooms to be sold in the agricultural market, which has created economic value while reducing waste of resources and environmental pollution. Until now this project has covered five communities in the Yangpu District of Shanghai City benefitting over 100 households, each of which can now receive an average extra income of 520 rmb every month as a result. "Social responsibility is not just an activity. It is an attitude towards humans, society, and the environment reflected in the activity", says Bettina Schön. "Activities may be time-limited, but an attitude will last."

The Freudenberg Group has been a global partner of Enactus for more than ten years. Around 20 executives of Freudenberg have served on the Enactus boards of directors in Germany, the U.S., and China for providing project guidance to student groups. More and more students have been devoted to community projects based on entrepreneurial activities in order to improve themselves while contributing to social progress. In October 2014, Enactus will organize the first ever Enactus World Cup in Beijing, and this global event with more than 3,000 participants will bring the community projects of college students to a whole new level. Freudenberg will continue to fully support these college students filled with a sense of social responsibility and help them become the leaders of tomorrow.